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CasinoRoyale_3

 

Novel publish year – 1953
Film release year – 2006
007 – Daniel Craig

Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, yet one of the more recent films.  All in all, the film does the novel considerable justice, especially in overall general tone.  Gone are the stupid quips and cheesy gadgetry found in many of the films.

There are, of course, some differences.  The novel begins with Bond already at the casino (the Royale-Les-Eaux casino in France; not Montenegro).  There, we find 007 sharpening his card playing skills in preparation for his big game against Le Chiffre.  Similar to the film, 007’s mission in the novel is to bankrupt Le Chiffre.  In the novel, Le Chiffre is in financial trouble because of a bad investment he made in a chain of brothels in France; he made this investment just prior to the passage of a law making prostitution illegal throughout France with funds he misappropriated from a SMERSH-controlled pension fund which he had been charged with managing.  Fleming explains in the novel that SMERSH is a secret unit of the Russian government with a mandate to eradicate double agents and punish/kill Soviet defectors.  In fact, SMERSH is a Russian acronym meaning, in sum and substance, “death to spies.”  In the film, Le Chiffre is under financial pressure due to the fact that his attempt to short an airline’s stock – and reap hundreds of millions – is foiled when Bond disrupts a scheme to sabotage the airline’s debut of a new prototype jumbo-jet.

In the novel, Le Chiffre captures and tortures Bond in an effort to force Bond to disclose the location of the check representing Bond’s winnings after defeating Le Chiffe at baccarat.  In the film, Le Chiffre demands the password for the Swiss bank account containing Bond’s winnings after the epic game of Texas Hold ‘Em at the Casino Royale.

There are a remarkable number of factual and thematic similarities between the novel and the film.  As noted above, and most significantly, Daniel Craig plays Bond closely to Fleming’s idea of Bond — an agent who is somewhat rough around the edges, capable of feeling vulnerable (occasionally), and perfectly willing to sacrifice his life for the mission.  In addition, in both the novel and in the film, Bond actually falls in love with Vesper Lynd and decides to leave MI6 so that they can have a normal life together.  In both formats, Vesper is compelled to betray Bond so as to save the life of a boyfriend who had been kidnapped by the organization, and then chooses to die as a consequence.  In the film, she willingly drowns herself in Venice; in the novel, she poisons herself after sleeping with Bond one final time.  In yet another similarity, in both the novel and in the film, Vesper realizes that she must uphold her end of the secret bargain she made with the enemy when she sees a man with an eye-patch — in the novel she sees the man and directly understands that SMERSH knows exactly where she is and who she is with (at a hotel on holiday with Bond following his victory at Royale-Les-Eaux); in the film, she sees a man with an eye-patch and realizes that it is time for her to sneak away and transfer Bond’s winnings from his poker game at the Casino Royale to the secretive (SMERSH-like) organization that controls Vesper via her (now former) boyfriend.

The disturbing torture scenes in the novel and film are particularly similar. Specifically, Bond is stripped naked then tied to a wicker chair, the seat of which has been cut out – allowing Bond’s exposed genitals to hang below the chair. Then, Le Chiffre uses the knotted end of a rope to repeatedly strike Bond in the testicles.  In both, Le Chiffre realizes that continuing to torture Bond would be futile and he instead decides to castrate Bond for his failure to succumb.  In both, Bond is saved at the last minute when Le Chiffre is shot in the head as punishment for his misappropriation of the organization’s money.  In the film, M speculates that Bond’s life was sparred because, while Bond was being tortured, Vesper agreed with the organization to transfer Bond’s winnings from the Casino Royale game to the organization after learning the password to MI6s Swiss account.


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